Call Me By Your Name

A teen discovers love’s bliss and pain

Seventeen year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) begins a relationship with his father’s research assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer). <<© Sony Pictures Classics>>

The year is 1983. Elio (Timothée Chalamet: Lady Bird) is a precocious 17. His professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg: The Shape of Water) and translator mother (Amira Casar: Night of 1,000 Hours) have raised him on poetry, music and philosophy.
    Despite his familiarity with culture and the arts, he hates his family’s annual summers in Italy. Each year, his father brings along a graduate student, who’s always a suck-up and who takes over Elio’s room.
    This year’s student, Oliver (Armie Hammer: Cars 3), breaks the pattern. Handsome, confident and only mildly ingratiating, Oliver attracts Elio’s interest. He delights in their intellectual sparring and craves the older man’s company.
    Feeling the building tension, Elio slowly realizes that he is feeling not dislike but longing. As he tumbles into sex and love for the first time, Elio discovers that he doesn’t know it all.
    Sensual, beautiful and impeccably acted, Call Me By Your Name is the sort of sweeping pastoral romance that stays in mind long after the credits roll. Based on a bestselling book brilliantly scripted by James Ivory, it’s about the heady joys and bone-deep aches of love. Think of it as a bodice-ripper for literature majors.
    Director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) uses lush visuals of nature coming into bloom as both metaphor and message. Elio is burgeoning, and nature inspires his character to self-discovery and happiness. Like the slow-building passion between the lovers, pacing is unhurried, with long shots and sweeping landscapes.
    Speaking three languages, playing piano like a prodigy and falling in loving with a man when homosexuality was taboo, Chalamet masters every challenge. Yet his articulate, vulnerable Elio can’t find the words to tell Oliver his feelings.
    As Oliver, who comes from a far more conservative family, Hammer is charming. He makes it easy to see how Elio — and half the sleepy Italian town — fall for his easygoing smile. Despite Oliver’s appearance of confidence, Hammer shows layers of loneliness and sweetness as he tries to do the right thing for both the teen and his family.
    Call Me By Your Name is an endearing, honest portrayal of first love, where the only real villain is time. It will make you smile, and it’s likely to make you cry. Expect its excellence to garner award nominations for both Chalamet and Hammer.

Great Drama • R • 132 mins.